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The Fernhurst Society

Memories of Fernhurst: Miss Woodman's store

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There was a general shop (now Cole’s) which was in the name of Miss Woodman. She must have been a kindly soul, memory tells of boys and girls of the village, who always wanted to buy sweets in the bottles on the highest shelf. One had a faint suspicion that the people who told about this remember doing it themselves in order to see Miss Woodman climb the small pair of steps.

The shutters always went up at twilight, but the shop was still open for customers, even at midnight (if you wished to be out so late) you could still make a purchase. What chatter and news would be exchanged in the lamp or candlelight behind those closed shutters. It is true that two young ladies of twenty, returning from a walk at midnight, did make a purchase of dog biscuits before going home. Yet another story of this shop: Logan Pearsall Smith from Friday’s Hill House, met the children coming out of the village school and took them all in procession to Miss Woodman’s one specially remembered afternoon. Yet, it did happen! The entire stock of sweets was bought and distributed amongst the children. What a truly wonderful thing to happen, for in those days a penny took a long time to spend.

There could be a wealth of imagination behind this activity and we believe the smell of paraffin and candles mingled with the produce. Once lump sugar was sold to the shopkeeper in large blocks, like blocks of salt, and cut into smaller pieces with a special saw. Treacle was also sold by weight from a cask, the customers bringing their own containers. Tea was also weighed from the ornamental canisters. These graced the top shelf of Miss Woodman’s shop.

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The Fernhurst Oral History Project was supported by the Local Heritage Initiative. The Local Heritage Initiative was developed by the Countryside Agency and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Nationwide Building Society.